Chronically Grateful November Challenge: Day 1–What Does Gratefulness Mean To You?

I’ve been pretty active on Instagram for this blog (@theheadacheheroine) and I saw a challenge for people living with chronic pain, disorders and/or illnesses. It’s for the month of November and the first day is about what gratefulness means to you, individually.

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To me, gratefulness means having the right perspective in order to see all of the blessings I’m surrounded by. I have a roof over my head, a loving family and devoted friends. I have a job (that I’ll be starting tomorrow!! eek!) and even though my health isn’t 100%, I have access to doctors and health facilities.

I think it means that even at our worst, we are able to see the good around us and making the effort to take that positivity to build ourselves back up.

This weekend I am grateful for the fun times I was able to share with family and friends. I have been having relentlessly bad headaches all week so I was worried I wouldn’t feel good enough to celebrate Halloween with my friends. Luckily, I didn’t feel terrible so I knocked Halloween out of the park (with the help of my awesome, cooperative bf) by being Lucille Ball from I Love Lucy

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Tell me I didn’t do an awesome job, I dare you!

I’m grateful for being able to enjoy myself (and maybe just a bit too much) and be the sassy, silly and wacky person I am, just as Lucy is too.

Be grateful for the good things in your life, even when they seem to be outweighed by the bad.

Night friends ❤

Song Of The Week: “Lost Stars” by Adam Levine

This is one of those songs that gave me very real chills the first time I heard it. I stumbled upon it while listening to Spotify one day. Since then, it still gives me chills each and every time I listen to it. Those songs are rare for me. Songs that allows your mind to find something new from them every time you hear them.

Every time I listen to this song, I feel like I’ve escaped to this new and different land or place. Is anyone else able to relate to that feeling?

  
Adam’s always angelic voice is the first thing that had me hitting repeat on this song, but it’s the following line that truly captured my heart.

Are we all lost stars trying to light up the dark?

This song reminds me that no matter where our journeys may take us, we must always shine our light on this world. That’s why we’re here: to use our light to light up the dark.

That’s why I write about my journey. I never really talked about it with anyone except friends and family until I started this blog. But I wanted to be able to share my experiences and shine my light in the hopes that I may help light up the dark for someone else. Maybe my words can help light the way for someone else who is having a hard time seeing which way to go.

You all are capable of lighting up the dark in your own unique ways. It’s how we use our light that really matters.

Zero To Hero

  
At some point in life, we will be broken. It’s inevitably a part of living. The hope is that we can rebuild and become strong at those broken places. Ernest Hemingway was a powerful writer and I find myself connecting to so many of his words. 

People with chronic pain or illnesses have a higher chance of being broken more than once, I think. There’s so much physical, mental and emotional struggle that comes along with the chronic pain we face. It’s a packaged deal and we don’t have the option to pick and choose which we go up against. 

For the past two months or so, my headaches have been relentless. Forcing me to force smiles and laughter. Making me work twice as hard as I normally would to do everyday tasks and things I need to do to get by. I’ve had some sincerely joyous, carefree moments within these two strenuous months. I do manage to have fun and truly laugh beside friends and family even during the worst of it. But when I take a step to the side and have a sidebar of my own, I have felt myself breaking to the point where I know that I’ve been broken by this life. My headaches have pushed tears through my eyes and created a nonstop state of frustration. It’s as if I’ve hit a wall because I have all these different directions I can go to try to figure out a “cure” or a diagnosis. But it’s hard to try to figure out which is the best road to go down first. 

I want to be one of the “some” that Hemingway talks about in this quote though. A part of the some that walk away stronger at my broken places. I’m determined, really, to be a part of that “some.” So I truck on, keep seeing different doctors, taking different tests and trying a wide range of tricks to try to help bring my headaches down even just a tiny notch. 

So if you’re feeling broken, just know you’re not alone. Know that you’re not a victim, because it happens to everyone. But also remember that you can take that feeling and build upon it. You can either let it continue to drag you down leaving you in pieces for someone else to try to put together, or you can become strong at those broken places and know that it will only turn you into a stronger fighter and more compassionate and empathetic person. 

Keep On Truckin 

  
Test after test. Doctor office after doctor office. There’s really no break when you’re trying to figure out what’s causing your chronic pain. I’ve don’t a number of X-rays, ct scans, and mris over the past few years. I don’t really remember how many.. So it always makes me uncomfortable to add another one to the list. However, I’m trying every possible route I can think of in order to (hopefully) get some answers as to what’s causing and how to treat my daily headaches. 

So today I did an X-ray of my cervical spine. Gonna see if it shows anything out of the ordinary. When one part of your body is messed up, it can affect other parts of your body as well. Neck issues are often linked to headaches or worsened headaches. So I decided to see if that’s a possibility in my case.

Happily accepting any good luck and wishful thinking! 

Song Of The Week: “The Rain” by Benjy Davis Project

Some days go on forever

Sometimes the weatherman says rain

We’ve all had days staring blankly out the window

Watching all the plans we made go down the drain

This isn’t a happy song, it doesn’t make you want to dance. This is a song that makes you truly understand the lyrics, because you can relate to the sadness and frustration. However, after listening to the whole thing, it reminds you that sometimes we all just have bad days. There are better days ahead, though.

This song describes so many days that I’ve faced during my journey with chronic daily headaches. There are days where all I want to do is lay in bed, stare blankly out the window, and watch all the plans I made go down the drain. And some days, that’s exactly what I do. I let frustration win and I hide from real life. People with chronic pain, or any health issue or daily struggle know that these days are inevitable and sometimes come into our lives too often.

I love this song because it’s another song that sounds like it was written specifically for me. It helped me realize that worrying doesn’t do any good for me. I can’t turn off the rain, but I can hold out hope for better weather.

The Search For Happiness

Sometimes I wonder, what makes other people happy? I know I’m a relatively happy person and I know the things in my life that not only make me happy but increase my happiness. How do others perceive happiness? I watched the movie “Hector and the Search for Happiness” and it was one of those movies that opened my eyes as if they had been closed all my life. It was a movie I saw on Netflix and thought “why not?” because I was bored and feeling sick in bed. Turned out to be one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while.

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During the movie, Hector seeks out what makes other people happy, because he isn’t happy himself. He jots down what he finds from other people and I’ve written them down below. Some of them I’ve thought of before, but some were very insightful for me especially during this medical journey I’ve been made to take on. Hopefully they give you some insight or make you think just a little more deeply about what makes you happy and how you can allow yourself to find true happiness in your life.

  1. Making comparisons can ruin your happiness. I am guilty of comparing myself to others all of the time. Whether it be about my job status, my financial status, or my health. I think well these people are healthy and I’m not. Why is that fair? Or something like well I don’t make as much money as them so I’m not as successful. Making these kinds of comparisons will only drag you down. Everyone is at different points in their lives, and everyone is dealt a different hand. We can’t compare ourselves to others if we want to be happy with ourselves.
  2. Sometimes happiness is not knowing the whole story. This can be true for some and not true for others I feel. It’s like how people make little white lies in order to not hurt their loved ones feelings. Keeping a part of the story out may spare someone. That being said, keeping yourself partly out of the loop may spare you as well.
  3. Avoiding unhappiness is not the road to happiness. Lately, I’ve been focusing so hard on avoiding situations where I feel left out, or avoiding situations where I am disappointed and frustrated. I worry so much about that, I forget to just breathe and enjoy the present moment. We will never be happy if we are always focusing on being unhappy.
  4. Does this person bring you predominantly a)up or b) down? This can relate to a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife or friend. At this point in my life, I have accepted the fact that I have and will continue to grow apart from some people in my life, some of whom I’ve considered very close friends in the past. It’s not an easy thing to accept, but it’s a fact of life. For me, I deal with so much physical pain that I already have enough negativity in my life just stemming from my own mind, frustrated and sad. I don’t want or need to be around people who bring even more negativity into my life. I want to be surrounded by people who lift me up, make me stronger, bring smiles to my face and laughter to my belly. I think it’s really important to ask ourselves “Is this person (or persons) bringing me up or down in this life?” It’s hard to leave people behind, I know because I’ve done it. It’s hard to cut the tie with someone you were once so close with. In the end, you have to worry about your own happiness and surround yourself with people who truly care for you and your well-being.
  5. Happiness is answering your calling. Not everyone finds their calling early in life. Some know it from when they were little and some find it after they’ve already had a full successful career. However, we can’t do things based on money or what other people think. We have to do them based on what we were meant to do. I know I’m meant to help others. That’s why my interest is in non-profit or hospital work. It may not be something I will be able to do coming right out of graduation (I do have college loans to pay off after all) but I know it’s something I will end up doing and I can’t wait.
  6. Happiness is being loved for who you are. To me, this is the most important one on this list. If you’re with someone who doesn’t appreciate your non-stop laughter that comes around for no reason at all, your appetite for pizza, your weird voices and silly dances, then why are you with them? You want to be with someone who loves you for you, flaws and all. We all have weird quirks that need to be given the freedom and love they deserve.
  7. Fear is an impediment to happiness. This is one I totally relate to. Unfortunately, I let a lot of fear into my life. I have irrational fears of spiders, horror movies and tsunamis. But on a more serious note, my headaches have opened up a door to fear that I wouldn’t have even known was there had I never had these headaches. I fear I will never feel “normal” again. I fear I won’t be able to do the things in life I want to because of my headaches. I fear that when the time comes when I want to be a mom, it’s going to be almost impossible due to my headaches. I fear the unknown. The medical unknown, mostly. I’ve been trying extremely hard lately to push aside my fear and live my life day by day, moment by moment. Really soaking in each breath. It will allow me to be happier, I know, if I just shove fear aside.
  8. Happiness is feeling completely alive. There are a few moments, memories and feelings that make me feel completely alive. One is when I’m sitting on a beach, not during the middle of the day, but either early in the morning or during the evening. In the past, I’ve tried to create a time where I can just sit by myself on a beach during these times and just really think about nothing. Staring out at the ocean that we know so much about yet so little about at the same time. Feeling the breeze through my hair. Just really feeling alive. Embracing everything around me. Find somewhere you can go or something you can do that for even a split second, makes you feel completely and totally alive. It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain and impossible to replicate.
  9. Happiness is knowing how to celebrate. Celebrate the small things and the big things. The little victories and monumental victories. It will make you feel so much more accomplished, strong and proud of yourself. Celebrate with a dance, singing your heart out, drinking your favorite cocktail, hugging the person next to you, treatin yo self and buying that necklace you’ve been eyeing all month. Find something that makes you feel proud enough to celebrate.
  10. Listening is loving. How often is it that we chronic pain spoonies talk and talk about our situations and experiences, and the person we’re talking to doesn’t seem to actually hear us? All too often for me. Sometimes the people don’t mean to, sometimes they just don’t care. The people who listen to us and listen enough to the point where they feel like they’re fighting our battle with us, are the ones who love us. Truly listening to someone shows more than some spoken words ever can.

I challenge you to really accept these 10 pillars into your life, to create a more true and lasting happiness for yourself. I also recommend you watch the movie I mentioned above, because it’s seriously awesome!

This life is so good. I hope you all allow yourselves to be as happy as you deserve to truly enjoy every moment you’ve been blessed with!

Song Of The Week: “i” by Kendrick Lamar

Dreams of realities peace
Blow steam in the face of the beast
The sky can fall down, the wind can cry now
The strong in me, I still smile

This song can be interpreted many different ways, I think. However, I hear it as an anthem to loving oneself as well as standing up and smiling in the face of adversity and hard times.

The song is about someone who feels so small and defeated, yet has faith in God and stills smiles through it all. It kind of asks in a way, when it comes down to it, are you going to give into the fear, frustration and anxiety? Or are you going to stand up against all of that, lift up your head and keep on moving?

I’ve faced times when I wanted to give into my pain, allowing it to take over not only my body but my mind as well. After a while though, I know the right and healthy thing to do for myself is to pick up head and keep moving. To keep trying to find answers and to keep fighting.

This life is too beautiful and miraculous to let the bad stuff suck you in. Lift up your head and keep moving through whatever hard time you are facing right now. You all have so much to love about yourselves. Your beauty, creativity, kindness, intelligence, compassion, empathy and so much more. Love yourselves so entirely that it makes you want to stand up and scream just like Kendrick does in this song, yelling “I LOVE MYSELF!”

Acupuncture–Take One

Today, I laid in a doctor’s office with 18 needles sticking out of my face, ears, hands and feet. I have been wanting to try acupuncture for a while, and today I finally did it. My whole apprehension to needles and fainting reputation held me back for a while, but it wasn’t that bad in the end.

My neurologist and past chiropractor had suggested just giving it a try. They warned me that since everyone’s bodies are different, not to base my decision to try it on other people’s success stories or lack of success from the method. They told me some people feel a difference right away, some it takes a few visits and some don’t ever feel relief to their pain or a change in their body.

I’ve reached the point though, where I am willing to try almost anything to see what may help my head. I’m on the path to some more drastic methods, but in the mean time I’m trying everything else I can think of before diving into the more intrusive type procedures.

I can assure you I looked nowhere as peaceful and relaxed as this person here does. Not sure how one ends up looking this way with needles sticking out of your face.

Anyways, I sat there with needles in my face, ears, hands and feet for about 10 minutes. While I didn’t notice much of a difference today, I’m going to go back and see if a repeated procedure helps at all.

One positive from this appointment was getting a different opinion and insight from a different type of doctor. A doctor who thinks mechanically and a little bit outside of the box. He gave me great insight and his thoughts as to possible causes for my pain and assured me he would look into everything I handed him in order to see if he can help at all.

It’s not a doctor I would have ever really thought to go to, but he really did point out some things about my body that other doctors have not been able to do.

So if you’ve been debating whether or not to try this method yet, I say it’s worth a shot! You never know what different things you may hear or if it will help until you try it! And if I didn’t faint with the needles in, then neither will any of you!

Where’s My Dawn?

As difficult as it has become, I try my damnedest to believe that it’s always darkest before the dawn.

For roughly the past month and a half, my headaches have not left my side for a single moment. They haven’t paused for interviews, social outings or even sleep. Something like this takes a toll on one’s emotional and mental state, not to mention physical as well.

I’m a very social young adult. I have a good group of friends that I really enjoy hanging out and going out with. I have amazing family who I cherish dearly and spend a lot of my time with as well. And I have a guy who has somehow learned to put up with me through thick and thin.

But I also have these headaches that don’t care if I see or spend time with any of these people.

Being cooped up on the weekends and not being able to go out and act like the 22 year old that I am has really started to create this grey, sad cloud around me. I know there are hundreds and thousands of other people who can relate to this in some way, and I feel for them.

I try to keep these posts uplifting and positive, but even I have my moments of weakness.

Anyone with chronic pain or illness has seen the darkest at some time, but the trick is to hold onto the hope that we will one day see the dawn.

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I’m in the darkest now, but praying that my dawn is trailing close behind.